Wednesday, April 20, 2011

On the road...

So far April's been a busy month. I've visited schools and presented at book fairs. And then there was the Texas Library Association conference. I haven't been able to do much writing or illustrating. But that changes immediately, as I have deadlines. Here are a few pics from the past few weeks.

Below: I finished off March visiting Windsor Park Elementary in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was a very sharp group of kids.

Below: A week later, I found myself back in Corpus Christi, presenting to kids at the Children's Book Festival. On the night before the festival, there was a book signing in which college students performed two of my books -- illustrated and all. Here I am with a few of the artists:

On the day of the festival, we presented to little under a thousand kids. The two other authors were Keith Graves and Salima Alikhan, pictured below:

Then it was off to present at a local school. Yes, that's me, very tiny, presenting to the the entire 4th grade student body:

Last week was the Texas Library Association conference. This year it was held in Austin. I had the pleasure of signing SHE LOVED BASEBALL with author Audrey Vernick, at the HarperCollins booth. Here's a few random shots:

Immediately following TLA, I hightailed it to Houston where I presented to students at Key Middle School, for their Books, Boxers and Boys: Inspiring Young Males to Read conference. Other authors: Charles R. Smith Jr., Mat Johnson.

But that's not all. I have two more dates in April. I'll be at Hart Elementary school in Austin on the 29th, and then PJ Hoover and I will do The Write Stuff program in Pfluggerville, TX on the 30th.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Highlights Chautauqua, art sales, school visits

Earlier this week on Twitter, I predicted a good week ahead. And a good week it has been. First of all, I received the good news that I was awarded a scholarship to attend the Highlights Foundation's 2011 Chautauqua workshops. A special thanks goes out to my publisher, Charlesbridge, for making this happen. I've heard nothing but wonderful stories from authors and illustrators who have attended the Chautauqua workshops, so I'm looking forward to it.

On Wednesday, I was contacted by an art collector and former minor league baseball team owner. He was interested in purchasing several original pieces of art from the Effa Manley book, SHE LOVED BASEBALL. At first I was reluctant because I almost never sell my art. Crazy, I know, an artist who doesn't sell art. But I use my art for school visits. I loosened up a bit and decided to sell a few pieces from this book.

On Thursday, I traveled to Corpus Christi, where I presented to students at Windsor Park Elementary school. It's an international baccalaureate school for advanced academics. I'm not quite sure what that means, but the kids were very smart.

Funny though, the situation I found myself in. Between presentations, an enthusiastic parent asked me to visit her child's classroom for a photograph. Upon entering the classroom, I hear the words, "Mr. Tate, would you popcorn dance with our class?" And a little voice in my head said, "Heck no! No-no-no, I don't dance." But before I could stop the scene, I was surrounded by kids shaking their butts, squatting way down low, and then popping up to the sky. I had no choice but to join in, and I prayed my knees wouldn't give out squatting that low. For those of you who know me, this is way out of my character, and when I told my son about it, he literally fell on the floor laughing.

Before leaving the school, one of the classrooms gave me a stack of letters. I enjoyed them all, but I got a big kick out of one letter in particular, where a kid drew a picture of me drawing cartoons. Isn't it great?

Next week, I'll return to Corpus Christi to participate in the 11th Annual Children's Book Festival.